Shumlin, Dodge reach agreement in land deal
By Gordon Dritschilo
Lawyers for Gov. Peter Shumlin and Jeremy Dodge say they have reached an agreement “in principle” for Dodge to buy his home back from the governor.
“The deal is that Jeremy Dodge will repay the governor everything the governor was out of pocket that benefited Jeremy Dodge from the transaction,” said Jerry Diamond, Shumlin’s attorney and a former Democratic state attorney general.
Diamond said Dodge will have five years to pay Shumlin back, putting the amount “in the neighborhood” of $30,000. He said the amount will be treated as an interest-only loan for the first four years, with Dodge obligated to pay the principal in year five.
“The interest rate has not been set yet,” Diamond said. “It will be the lowest interest rate the IRS allows before it imputes income. It’s lower than you would get from a financial institution.”
Diamond said that if Shumlin did not charge interest, he would still be taxed as if he had charged interest at a minimum rate.
“The governor is doing it in a way that poses the smallest economic burden on him or his family for five years,” Diamond said. “He always has the option to sell on the open market.”
Diamond said Shumlin had also made an offer in which, instead of paying back money, Dodge could simply transfer some of the acreage of the East Montpelier property to the governor, keeping the house and remaining land, but that offer was rejected.
Shumlin came under fire after details emerged about his purchase of Dodge’s property, which is adjacent to the governor’s property, for $58,000. The sale price was a fraction of the appraised value and relatives of Dodge claimed Shumlin took advantage of his diminished mental capacity and difficult financial situation.
Dodge’s income has been reported as $8,000 a year, raising the question of how Dodge will pay off the debt.
Dodge’s attorney, Brady Toensing, was more tight-lipped than Diamond.
“We’ve reached an agreement in principle and we expect to work out the details in the next few weeks,” he said, declining to go into any further detail on the record.
Toensing, who previously worked for Brian Dubie, former Republican lieutenant governor and Shumlin’s opponent in the 2010 gubernatorial race, also declined to say whether he had taken the case pro bono. Dodge said he could not afford a lawyer during the initial sale and was unable to get one from Vermont Legal Aid after.
Diamond said he hoped to see the deal finalized by Aug. 15.